Maburaho Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Maburaho

Maburaho Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     October 05, 2005
Release Date: October 11, 2005


Maburaho Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
Everyone thought he was a goner - but there's something about Kazuki that just won't give up the ghost! With their hopes of getting into Kazuki's genes up in smoke, Yuna, Kuriko and Rin are undeterred from trying to make the impossible happen. They must find a way to bring Kazuki back to life so they can have a crack at his celebrated DNA. But new obstacles abound! A mysterious woman appears who wants Kazuki for reasons of her own. And Rin's former mentor arrives to take her back home. Kazuki better watch out - sexy girls are nothing compared to furious swordmasters and ghost collectors! What's a ghost to do?!

The Review!
With Kazuki's new life underway, depressions sets in for him as he copes with it and the girls try to find a solution.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a fairly standard stereo mix that's used in a show where there's plenty of explosions and other high school escapades. With characters flying about, explosions going across entire sections of walls and windows and numerous other directional bits, the forward soundstage conveys this nicely and without any problems. Dialogue is nice and clean throughout it as well as getting some good placement such as when the cast is flying. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series looks to be one that has some high production values and exceptionally good coloring used on it that gives it very fresh and very animated feel. The transfer manages to capture a lot of this really well as the colors look great and vivid without any oversaturation or excessive bleeding. The colors maintain a very solid feel throughout and while there's a touch of macroblocking here and there in some wide color fields, they're essentially really good looking. Some cross coloration does seep through in the very edges of a couple of the characters hair and shows up sporadically but it's nowhere near on the level of distraction. An occasional panning or two causes some light aliasing but that's fairly typical. Overall, this is quite good looking and easy on the eyes.

Packaging:
Letting someone new take the cover during the volume that introduces them is fairly standard and this volume lets Shino take center stage with her holding onto a cute pint sized Kazuki in a cage while the other girls are in the background watching on. The back cover has Kazuki's supposed best male friend posing alone along side several shots done as photos. The summary gives the basics of the premise and pushes the hottie factor a bit while listing the discs extras. The shows production information is clearly listed and the technical grid covers everything else in an easy to read format. An insert is included with this release that is done as a school newspaper with the front showcasing a lead story related to the episodes in this volume. Inside there's some gag stories about the school, tidbits about the characters and some four panel strips.

Menu:
The menu layout is a cute piece where it has Yuna chasing Kazuki as she flies behind him and he runs "around the world" in a sense. It's done with very light and comical animation as a bit of funky little music plays along for a brief loop. Access times are nice and fast and with the basic navigation it's easy to move about. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which continues to be a nice plus.

Extras:
The extras section has some fairly standard pieces here and the kind of extras I expect over the remainder of the series run. The art section showcase various pieces of production artwork set to a video gallery format and it has some nice pieces to it. The opening and ending sequences are also presented in their clean versions which continue to be one of the best standard extras since DVDs arrival. The commentary track done for this volume is by Jessica Boone and Monica Rial. After getting that fun commentary in the earlier volume with included video I have to say it's disappointing again that they don't use it here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Maburaho drops down to three episodes a volume with this release which may not be a bad thing as the show has taken a sizeable turn in how it presents itself with what occurred in the previous volume. The tone of the show is something that can change how people feel about it and not overwhelming them with so many episodes may actually work in its favor.

It's pretty much a spoiler but it's the way the entire show has turned now so it's pretty much impossible to not talk about the fact that Kazuki used the last of his magic and is now a ghost, his body having turned to ashes. But he's not a complete ghost since if he was he would have moved on completely. Instead, he's still here and going about his usual routine though with little success. He heads out on his day like normal for school with Yuna but he can't even grab his bag. He gets chided for not using the door when he leaves but that only makes it worse since he can't open the door. His mental strength is enough that he's able to position himself to sit at his desk in the school but that's about the extent of it. Otherwise, he's unable to make a connection to things.

Well, unless it's important to the story and then they sort of forget this and he's holding cards, touching people and so forth. Kazuki's ghost presence does bring some fun into things right away though as the entire class turns against him. Since he's a ghost he doesn't need an education and he should leave, his best friend turns against him and the class in general is ready for him to leave. That is until they wonder if they can make any money off of him somehow or find some other use for him. Yuna does her best to defend him and her constant going on about being his wife and being at his side only serves to make Kazuki feel worse. From the start of his day, the boy is nothing but a zone of negativity and it's easy to understand why.

With this kind of mental state, it's not surprising that he's more susceptible to things and a mysterious woman who later introduces herself as Shino enters the picture. She uses some interesting magic and tricks to lure him to abandoned buildings where she tries to capture him to be part of her collection of famous and important ghosts. She wants to help him on to become a complete ghost and to finish the journey he started. Half the time he gets interrupted by Yuna and the other girls showing up or Kazuki ends up waffling about the entire situation and tries to get out of it. The girls continue to try and find a way to help him though and their devotion, which they're realizing is more than just wanting his genes now, starts to come to the surface in a few key moments but is still kept to the side.

One episode on this volume was a mixed bag in that he had some fun moments but otherwise was a standard background episode that you could almost count as filler because it's been done so many times. Rin's older brother arrives in town and we get some of the history of how she was raised cruelly since she was the one to take over for the family some day. Since he had to train her in the ways of things he was always forceful with her and essentially took away her childhood which she always held against him. But now, like always in these kinds of stories, he's come to take her back home and out of the school. She of courses refuses and with her "husband" Kazuki close at hand, the pair end up setting up for a dual about it. There are deeper issues here than just this and it all comes out but the setup for it is just so standard and done so many times that you can call it from the start. The little bit deeper that it does go is welcome though and adds a nice bit to it but doesn't make up for the entire thing.

In Summary:
The tone in Maburaho has naturally changed due to the radical change in the lead character. Thankfully they haven't hit the reset button quickly and moved on as this kind of change, which can make some people unhappy to be sure, is something that helps separate anime from a lot of other shows. Or at least used to. Messing over your characters and making things difficult for them is all part of the fun and while the tone is more sour and dour this time around, it's certainly warranted and I'm looking forward to seeing how Kazuki will deal with it as time goes on.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,"The Art of Maburaho",Commentary by Tiffany Grant,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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